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Roots to Blossoms: The Importance of Family History

How getting to know your past can help ground you in the present

Looking at family photographs

Roots play an important role in the life of all blooming plants. There’s so much that’s required for a small plant to grow, and a system of healthy, grounded roots is the lifeline.

Family roots are a lot like the roots of a plant! Personal family history is complex but plays a principal role in our lives. Here are three things you can gain from understanding your roots.

Context to your life

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Did you know that the roots actually change the soil around them to better help the plant grow? Likewise, your ancestors’ choices, experiences, beliefs, and culture all had an impact on their environment which has had some influence on your life today.

During President Brian K. Ashton's inauguration, Sister Melinda Ashton shared how her family roots shaped her perspective on education: “Because my parents and grandmothers had all received university degrees, I thought it was normal and natural for me to receive one as well. I never had to agonize over the decision of whether I was capable of obtaining a degree or determine if it was worth the cost.” 1
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Melinda Ashton, “The Transformative Blessings of Education” (BYU-Pathway Worldwide Inauguration Dinner, March 10, 2022), byupathway.org/speeches

Education is just one area of life that is influenced by our families — there are many more! Learning more about family history can take time and effort, but by getting to know those before us, we can come to understand how we got to where we are.

Better sense of personal identity

Having a grounded perspective about who we are is essential to navigate our way through life. President Russell M. Nelson has emphasized that our primary personal identifier should be as children of God. 2
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Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity” (Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults with President Nelson May, 2022), churchofjesuschrist.org/study/broadcasts

Our family roots help us recognize that divine identity more clearly. Our roots give us a peek into God’s vision for our lives, how He has lovingly blessed us, and how our ancestors’ lives are connected to ours today.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong said, “Connecting with our ancestors can change our lives in surprising ways. From their trials and accomplishments, we gain faith and strength. From their love and sacrifices, we learn to forgive and move forward.” 3
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Gerrit W. Gong, “We Each Have a Story” (Liahona, Apr. 2022)

Power to influence the future

As the “trunk” of your family tree, you connect the roots of the past to the blossoms of the future. The stories of your past may not always be positive, but like a root carries nutrients into a plant, you can determine what to carry forward and what to forgive and leave behind as you become the roots of the future.

Brett Lasay with his family.jpg
Brett Lasay with his family

Brett Lasay from the Philippines is one BYU-Pathway Worldwide student who has experienced the blessings that come from family history research, both personally and professionally.

He said, “I felt a burning desire to search for my ancestors and help others find theirs. I immersed myself in genealogy by reading blogs, studying books, and watching RootsTech .” He enrolled in the family history research associate degree , offered through BYU-Pathway.

Through Brett’s efforts, he was able to help other people discover their family members, find increased purpose, and triple his salary. Brett said this newfound pursuit of family connection and history is “a blessing to me and my family — past, present, and future.”

Like Brett, you can take inspiration from the legacies of the past and gain greater understanding of your potential to be a positive influence in God’s kingdom and the community.

How has doing family history helped you?